“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.” -Jack Kerouac

Life for any artist or creative person seems to have two poles, and neither pole is particularly easy. On the one hand, you can hide, and you can look for ways to stay safe, warm and fed. Usually this pole entails mounting existential despair and confusion, and actual clinical-level symptoms of anxiety and depression. Often it involves dropping offline in daily tasks because some part of you is always somewhere else. Or some part of you is buried but it keeps speaking, and it’s hard to focus on life’s seemingly frantic daily necessities when there is so much background noise going on. (Perhaps you even begin to take refuge in these seemingly urgent daily necessities, to an unhealthy degree, because then you don’t have to hear that buried part of you speaking.) On the other hand, you can step off of the “safe path,” and begin to live life in free fall, as all American artists must (even the really “successful” ones). And as you weather the totally naked, exposed, vulnerable, not “safe” feelings, and the gale force wind of that life in free fall, the temptation to find some way to lie, some way to take shelter, some way to not appear as no one but yourself, some way to just start doing what “sells,” can be enormous. This is especially true for American artists and creatives, as salesmanship is so deeply woven into the fabric of our consumer culture (AND America provides essentially no support or safety net for the artist’s life), and some part of you wants to accept that that is just how it is (right?) while another part of you (shall we call it your Soul?) is probably deeply offended by this seemingly inescapable state of affairs.

It’s that other part of you that I want to help you to keep alive. I agree with the sentiment of the great psychoanalyst, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, that the human heart and soul are the most endangered species on the planet. I care deeply about helping to preserve the human heart and soul, in my clinical work, and also in my own art and writing practice. I always try to walk my talk, and I’m not always perfect. I will be a real human being with you, within the parameters of our professional relationship, and I will never hide behind the mask of pretending to know something I don’t, or pretending to have the answers. Sometimes there are no answers other than your own specific devotional practices or remembrances that help you to live in alignment with your authentic values, and with a greater sense of peace and purpose.


There is a way (through finding true self-compassion, your own intuition and your own courage) to get into alignment with your artist, with your authentic creative life, with your Soul. I’m an integrative, EMDR-trained, licensed psychotherapist in Hayes Valley. I provide very client-centered, and sometimes charmingly casual psychotherapy that is geared towards getting to the root of what is causing your current distress, and actual healing or shifting that, on your terms and at your pace. “Getting to the root” does involve looking at the past, but we will also look at the present, and get excited about the future. Excellent for people who want lots of insight (into the way the past informs the present, but also at the level of dream work and transpersonal psychology), but who don’t want to be in therapy forever. I’m constantly adding to my clinical toolbox, and therefore, my approach is intuitive, eclectic, and ever-evolving. Video visits and evening and weekend hours available. I have tea, art supplies, oracle cards, and a fellow artist soul 🙂 Free 20-minute consultations offered, if you’re curious (click the link below).

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Annalise Oatman, MA, LCSW 88254
45 Franklin Street, Suite 214, San Francisco, CA 94102 949-533-4651 annalise@awaketherapysf.com